Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ancelotti pays the price

Chelsea didn't even wait until their bus trip back to London before apparently ending Carlo Ancelotti's tenure as coach at Stamford Bridge. Whilst Chelsea's season was indeed a disappointing one, this premature and reactionary response belies a club run at the whim of its benefactor (a generous one granted) and without the required experience to operate at the very top of football.

Real Madrid behave in entirely the same manner and one must surely conclude that had they not taken actions such as sacking Vincente Del Bosque after he had won the league title and engaged in even a small modicum of continuity, that they would have won more trophies since.

Where Chelsea differ from Real Madrid is that they are not Real Madrid. Whatever the short term nature of the Madrid board, it is still Real and the best coaches in the world will queue up to take the job and the risk that comes with it. It is a name you want or your CV pure and simple. Chelsea is still a club building it's reputation as a European power and regardless of the quality of the current team, it is still a long way down the list when compared to a Real or a Barca, an AC or even a Bayern Munich or a Liverpool. People will go to Chelsea  because for the large part huge financial incentive and currently a strong chance of winning medals - and in that order. It is not because 'it was the club they've supported since they were a boy' unless of course they sign Robbie Keane.

Until now it had been possible to defend Abramovich to a degree with his managerial policy. Ranieri was never his man and whilst a likeable guy, not at the very top echelon. Mourinho was a superb hire but he engineered his own removal after things soured with the Shevchenko debacle for which Abramovich also was mainly to blame. Grant was a stop gap and nothing else and Scolari was thought to be a great choice only for the players to decide otherwise. All of which led us to Ancelotti.

Chelsea knew what they were getting with Ancelotti, that was a man whilst coaching AC Milan for eight seasons who won only three major trophies, two Champions Leagues and a mere one Scudetto. The Champions League success was the attraction for the hiring but his managerial record was hardly the stuff of insparation in terms of silverware. There was also a suspicion that Ancelotti had a knack of getting the best out of an ageing squad which was certainly what he was inheriting at Chelsea which is still very much the team that Jose built. It may even be that Chelsea (foolishly if they did) saw Ancelotti as a stop gap appointment to milk the ageing squad before rebuilding with younger players.

Ancelotti won as many league titles in first year at Chelsea as he did in eight at AC Milan so was it really to be expected that he would win the Premiership every season? He won the Champions League with AC on average once every four years so again, could he be blamed for not delivering that trophy so far?

Chelsea are a club at a crossroads. They have lost out again to ManYoo this season, their squad is past its peak and Manchester City with their financial backing have the potential to dominate for several seasons if they are able to add the very best. Abramovich restored a large degree of faith with the January recruiting of Torres and Luiz but it is clear that several replacements of the same calibre are required. It is clear for any manager now taking the Chelsea job that should they fail to match either Ferguson or Mancini (or whomever is in the two hot seats up North) then they will face the axe. Armed with this knowledge and the condition of the current squad, one would think Chelsea would have to guarantee to underwrite a significant squad investment to any prospective manager. Chelsea are not Real Madrid and it would therefore be incredibly helpful if they stopped behaving like them - No Nonsense.